Sermon on Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Text: See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Life is full of choices. Coke or Pepsi? John Deere or International Harvester? Should the toilet paper hang on top of the roll or behind it? You will find some people who are very committed to one or the other choice. However, in the long run, it really doesn’t make a difference which one you choose. Both are good choices. There are some times when it does make a huge difference which one you choose. For example, which side of the road should you drive on? To choose incorrectly could end up with injury or even death. This morning, as we study this section from the book of Deuteronomy, God gives a choice to the people of Israel. What would happen to them depended on which choice they made. We also have this same choice placed in front of us. GOD OFFERS LIFE OR DEATH: 1. Death From Disobedience And Sins Unforgiven or 2. Life Through Faith In Christ And Sins Forgiven.
The book of Deuteronomy records the words of Moses as he addressed the people of Israel just before they were going to enter into Canaan. Forty years earlier, the nation of Israel was in a similar position. God told them to send spies into the land to see the blessings that were waiting for them. When the spies came back, they spoke glowingly about the land. However, ten of them said that it was not possible to take the land. The people that were there were too powerful. Rather than trusting that God would keep his promise and give them this land, the people rebelled. As a result, God told them that all people who were over the age of twenty would not enter the land. The nation would wander in the wilderness for forty years until they came back to this place. Now, Moses reiterates the law of God. He reminded the people of the Lord’s amazing love and faithfulness. Having done that, God, through Moses, told the people that they now had a choice going forward. He said in verse 15, “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.”
Those are some very drastic choices. “Life and Prosperity” vs. “Death and Destruction.” What would cause one or the other? God told the people of the cause and effect of “death and destruction” in verses 17&18, “If your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are https://www.acheterviagrafr24.com/viagra-pas-cher/ drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.” The cause of death and destruction would be if the people followed other gods when they entered the land of Canaan.
Surely, you would think that the people would have no interest in following other gods. After all, they knew what had happened to their ancestors when they bowed down and worshiped the golden calf as Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving the law from God. They, also, had seen God’s goodness first hand through the years that they were in the wilderness. They had been fed manna and quail from the hand of God. Their sandals did not wear out as they walked across that barren landscape. When nations came to attack them, God was there to defend them and they had won victory after victory. Surely, there would be no way that they would ever think of bowing down to and worshiping other gods!
Unfortunately, when you read the rest of the Old Testament, you see that, time and again, they did just that. Why would they do this? Part of the reason is the fact that the gods of the Canaanites were very appealing to the sinful flesh. The two main gods, Baal and Asherah, were gods of fertility. You worshiped them by engaging in licentious activity. You ate and drank and engaged in sexual activity with shrine prostitutes. This was all done so that there would be rain at the proper time and crops would grow and flourish. In spite of all of God’s warnings, the people of Israel ran after these and other false gods.
As a result, God did give to them what he threatened: “I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.” Though the people were in this land that God had given them, they were often attacked by foreign nations. When the people repented, God would rid the land of these invaders. However, eventually, the majority of the people would be carried off to captivity and never return. Even after the exiles returned from Babylon, the nation of Israel was never the national power that it had been. Because the people of Israel ran after other gods, they found death and destruction.
You and I face a similar choice every day, every hour, every minute. There is the choice to follow God and his will for our lives or follow the world and all of its gods. This should be an easy choice, right? After all, just like the Israelites, God, in his grace, gives us everything that we need for this life. He protects us. Surely, there is no way that we would ever think of following the temptations that the world places in front of us!
However, we know just how enticing the temptations are that the world places in front of us. While we may not be bowing down to gods such as Baal and Asherah, the practices that their worship revolved around are just as enticing today. There are temptations to overindulge in food and drink. The temptations to lust attack from so many different sources, from the television to movies to commercials to magazines to the internet. We also find the temptations to disrespect those whom God has placed in authority over us. The list goes on and on of how the world places temptations in front of us. It is also true that we, like the Israelites, have often succumbed to them. Every time that we sin, we are, in essence, worshiping that rather than worshiping God. Just as God threatened the people of Israel with death and destruction and, eventually carried it out, we, also are deserving of these same punishments. We deserve God’s punishment while we are here on this earth and forever in the fires of hell. This is a good reminder for us, lest we get lulled into thinking that we can go ahead and sin without any impunity. There is always death from disobedience and sins unforgiven.
How horrible it would be if that were all that there was. However, God has been so gracious to us. In addition to all of the earthly blessings that we spoke of earlier, God has blessed us with spiritually. The greatest of all of these blessings was the gift of his Son, Jesus. Jesus came to the earth to live a perfect life for us, including worshiping his Father. Recall one of the temptations that Jesus faced when he was being tempted by the devil for those forty days. The devil promised that he would give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. He intimated that Jesus would never have to suffer. The world would be his. There was only one condition. Jesus would have to worship him. Jesus responded, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Throughout his life, Jesus followed his Father’s will. Then, to pay for all of the times that we have fallen and made other things more precious to us than God, Jesus willingly went to the cross. He shed his blood to pay the debt that we owed our God. He suffered damnation so that you and I would never have to. His resurrection tells us that we are forgiven. We have the added spiritual blessing that God chose us to be his own and sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts to make us his children. When we were brought to faith, we also received a new man, who delights in doing our Father’s will. Now the choice is clear. Because we love our Father, we shudder at the thought of following those other gods. Our delight is to serve our Father, to choose his ways.
In his grace, God promises to bless us when we choose his ways. Remember that he offered the choice of “life and prosperity,” as well. God told the people of Israel, “For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.” (Verse 16) Later, in verses 19&20, God said, “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” God makes similar promises to us, as well.
God promises us life. First of all, when we are brought to faith, we are raised from a spiritual death to a spiritual life. Because we are spiritually alive, we can receive all of the blessings that God has in store for us. We receive forgiveness of sins. We receive the peace in knowing that we are right with God. We rejoice in God’s amazing love for us. We live in daily communion with God, enjoying his gracious favor as a forgiven sinner.
In addition, we have the assurance that God is with us during the life that we live on this earth. We have the peace in knowing that whatever may happen to us during this lifetime, we have a loving God who is directing our lives in the way that is the best for us. We, also, have God’s blessings when we live according to his will. Life goes better when we do it God’s way. This doesn’t mean that life will be easy or perfect or that everyone will like us when we live for God. Yet, we know that, when we choose to do it God’s way, life goes better. It goes better for us when we do not lie. It is better for us when we do not take the things that do not belong to us. Who would you rather be with: someone who is content with their lives or someone who is always complaining? Who would you rather visit with: someone who is always running other people down or someone who builds others up? Our earthly life goes better when we do it God’s way out of thanksgiving for all that he has done for us.
Finally, because of Jesus’ work and the fact that our sins are forgiven, we have eternal life to look forward to. This existence will go so far beyond anything that we can imagine. There we will be completely free from anything that makes our lives difficult or painful. We will live in perfect peace and unity with God and with those around us. The joy of this eternal life will never come to an end. All of this waits for us, because Jesus, who is our life, has come to the earth and made us his own. We have life though faith in Christ, who forgives all of our sins.
As we go through the various stages of life, we face choices. What school should I attend? What career should I pursue? Whom should I marry? Where should I live? Each of these questions is very important. The answers to these questions will change the course of our life. We, also, face questions every day in so many situations that are placed in front of us. There is the choice to go against God’s will. We see that doing so only leads to death and destruction. On the other hand, guided by the Holy Spirit, in response to the love that God has shown us, we can choose to follow God’s ways. When we do so, God graciously promises us blessing after blessing. Because of God’s love for us, may we, every day, echo the words of Joshua, the successor of Moses. Before he passed away, he called the people of Israel before him and reminded them of God’s blessings. He said, “If serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” May he help us to that end. Amen.
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